I finally got around to watching that AFI special, 100 Years, 100 Cheers, about inspirational films. For whatever reasons, a few moments really touched me, two from the films themselves and two from the commentaries.
The first commentary was Jane Fonda talking about her father Henry, and how their relationship in On Golden Pond (a film I’ve never seen, though I’ve watched stage productions of it) between their characters paralleled their real-life relationship, how he got his only Oscar for that role, how he was unable to receive it himself, so she had to receive it in his stead, how she was so pleased to present the award to him personally, and how he died five months later. I knew these facts before, yet I found it surprisingly poignant in the retelling.
The second commentary was Sidney Poitier talking about Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and how he became cognizant of channeling the relationship with his real father in playing against the man who played his cinematic dad. Talking about this made him a bit emotional.
I’ve long been a sucker for the scene in Field of Dreams when the Kevin Costner figure asks his dad to play catch. But I was surprised how moved I was of the scene in To Kill a Mockingbird when the black folks in the balcony direct Scout to stand up: “Your father’s passing.”
There were others that touched me, I imagine, such as Poitier’s frustrated Walter Lee Younger in A Raisin in the Sun. There was a production of A Raisin io the Sun when I was a kid, put on by the Binghamton Civic Theater, and my father was heavily involved in the behind-the-scenes stuff: set design, costuming, program design. Anyway, my father passed away six years ago today, and seeing those film clips were particularly resonant for me.
It was great hanging out with Julie Hembeck and her dad and mom recently. Details soon.